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brown patches and brown spots

What happened to your beautiful and healthy lawn? It’s supposed to be green, right?

Now it’s a large expanse of brown turf grass. Or maybe just weird parts of it are brown. So much for your plan to go barefoot all weekend.

“Why is my grass turning brown despite watering?”

Now that’s a question we’ve fielded before, especially as summer wanes on. There are lots of reasons your once-lush green lawn is turning brown, from bugs to disease to lack of water.

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons your grass is turn brown — and what you can do about it.

Lack Of Water

This may seem obvious, but your lawn needs adequate water to stay nice and green.

In midsummer, most lawns need between one and two inches of water a week. You can offer one long drink once a week, but it’s better to split it up into two watering sessions a week.

Water should penetrate to about six to eight inches deep. How can you tell how deeply you’re watering?

Grab your screwdriver — that’s right — and stick it down into your lawn. It will move easily through wet soil but will stop or become tougher to push when it reaches dry soil.

Don’t overdo it — over-watering encourages the development of fungus and disease. More on that in a bit.

Make sure your sprinklers are reaching all areas of your lawn. Most sprinkler heads are easily adjusted with a small screwdriver.


small patches of brown grass could grow into huge islands of dead grass if the fungus isn’t removedDozens of diseases and fungi can turn your lawn brown. This time of year, when watering is in full swing and there’s often high humidity, fungus is everywhere.

One common moisture-loving fungus, brown patch, usually hangs out in the soil munching decomposing plant matter. But it heads up to the grass if it’s hot and humid.

Your small patches of brown grass could grow into huge islands of dead grass if the fungus isn’t removed.

Try a fungicide designed for brown patch. Once the fungus is gone, your grass has a chance to green up again. But you’ll have to be patient — it typically takes 28 to 30 days for regrowth.

Take good care of your lawn —  sufficient water in early morning, regular mowing, good aeration, thatch management — and it will be more likely to resist lawn disease.

Also, if your lawn is diseased, bag your clippings when you mow to keep the disease from spreading.

Prevent Fungus With Aeration

The best thing you can do to prevent fungus next summer is to aerate your lawn this fall.

Over time, soil and the underlying thatch of your lawn can become compacted, which can seriously affect your lawn’s ability to thrive.

As soil becomes compacted, it can’t breathe. That means the roots of your grass won’t be able to absorb nutrients or water from the soil. So slowly, over time, it dies.

Aeration perforates the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn. It’s often followed by overseeding.

Lawn aeration will improve the flow of water, oxygen and nutrients through the soil. It also encourages grass to grow roots deeper into the ground. That makes them tougher, more able to withstand fungus and other stress.

Lawn Pests

You might not even see these tiny intruders as they attack, but the damage they can do to your pretty green lawn is obvious. Some lawn pests love to munch on the tender roots of your grass, chew on the blades and even drag entire blades of grass into their burrows for later snacking.

Here are a couple of the main culprits that can turn a good lawn brown:

White Grubs

Grass turns brown with white grubs infestationA few white grubs won’t turn your grass brown, but an infestation will. By August, grubs could start to appear.

As the grubs hide in the topsoil, they feed on and destroy grass roots. Your grass can’t absorb the necessary nutrients and moisture to remain green, so  brown patches appear across your lawn.

Insecticides for instant grub control are available, as well as controlled-release mixtures if grubs are a persistent problem in your neighborhood.

Once you control the infestation, your grass will have a chance to recover and grow healthy once again.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are a major culprit when it comes to brown grass. They feed on turf by sucking out plant juices and injecting salivary fluids into the leaves and stems. This blocks water and food, so the grass dies. Chinch bugs are most active in hot, dry, sunny conditions.

First your lawn will look wilted, then yellow, and eventually brown. These dead patches continue to become larger, even with regular watering.

Early insecticide sprays can reduce the beginning spring population of chinch bugs. This works well if applied in April or early May, after adults have finished spring migrations and the young nymphs are just becoming active.

Slightly damaged turf will recover quickly if lightly fertilized and watered regularly. Heavily infested lawns that have lost a lot of grass will have to be reseeded.

Pet Waste

Pet urine contains acid, which turns the grass brown

You love Fido, but he sure does a number on your grass. Round patches of brown spots often mean a dog has urinated on your lawn. Urine contains acid, which turns the grass brown.

There are some things you can try.

Walk your dog to a park or field instead of releasing him on the lawn.

Train pets to urinate in a designated spot in the yard. You may even want to include a marking post, such as a bird bath or boulder. Consistency for at least two to three weeks will be necessary to establish routine behavior.

Heavily water the spot where a dog urinated on the lawn after it happens. This helps to dilute the urine and minimize damage.

“Grass burning” problems are worse when dogs haven’t urinated for a number of hours — like first thing in the morning and when you get home from work. This urine is super concentrated and especially damaging. Try taking Sweetums for a walk during these times, instead of letting her outside on the lawn.


Your grass prefers a soil pH range of 6 to 7, so it’s possible the soil has become too acidic from a nearby evergreen tree or fresh leaf mulch. These plants are commonly acidic and slowly change the soil pH over time.

Get your soil tested to find out for sure. If the pH is below 6, you’ll need to amend your soil. If you roll your grass sod to the side, you may add lime to the soil to increase the pH value. Once amended, the grass should recover and begin new green growth.

Weather And Mowing

Drought stress or summer lawn stress is one of the common reasons why your healthy lawn turns brown. Your grass might just be responding to hot weather. The grass may green up when cooler weather returns.

Also, take care when you mow. Make sure your mower blades are sharp. Only cut about one-third of the grass blades’ height each session.

Be consistent with this, and your grass stays strong enough to withstand the stress that causes brown patches.

Neave Can Get You Green Again

remove weed seeds to prevent dying grassAt Neave Lawn Care, we’re green grass experts. When we plant a lawn, we use three different types of seed. Each type of grass seed reacts differently to different stresses, so by planting three types, we give you a better chance of always having some green grass.

The only way to tell exactly why grass is brown is by taking a close look. Part of our comprehensive lawn care service is a complete lawn analysis, which allows us to better understand your property’s needs.

The best part? It’s free!

If you’re in the Hudson Valley, call us at (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, call (914) 271-7996; from Connecticut, dial (203) 212-4800. Or, fill out our simple web form, and we’ll contact you about setting up your free consultation.

The lawn analysis will include analyzing the health and condition of all outdoor plant life on your property. This will include the grass, soil, planters, shrubs, trees and any other organic plant life you wish to have examined. During the lawn analysis with Neave Lawn Care, you’ll also have the time to ask as many questions as you’d like. We’ll answer them all.

We’ll use this time to offer some advice and solutions for you, and we can easily work these in to your lawn care service package.

Homeowner's Guide to Lawn Care

Image: Pet sign, Mushrooms, Grub

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FREE Landscape Care & Maintenance Guide

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